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Australian Story -

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PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 26 July , 2010

CAROLINE JONES, PRESENTER: Hello, I'm Caroline Jones. Glenn Wheatley is an undisputed legend of the
entertainment industry. He's guided the careers of huge stars like John Farnham, Delta Goodrem and
Little River Band. But three years ago, amidst sensational headlines, he was convicted and jailed
for tax fraud. Glenn Wheatley has served his time and tonight he tells his story.

GLENN WHEATLEY: Gaynor and I moved to Sydney this year because it was just too much going on in
Melbourne. Our life was just too public. I mean we couldn't do anything without being televised or
being written about. And I'm happy about the move. I don't know if it's forever, but it is a fresh
start for us. I guess the worst thing for me out of this whole situation is the notoriety that I
brought to myself and to the family. A lot of people tell me every day that I'm not Robinson
Crusoe, there's plenty of it going on, but that doesn't make me feel any better about what I did. I
did break the law. I was convicted for tax fraud and I am so ashamed about what I did. I've paid
the price but uh, I was guilty and pleaded guilty right from the word go because I knew what I had
done was wrong.

GAYNOR WHEATLEY: There are absolutely no excuses for what he did. I can't in any way justify it or
anything. It was wrong, wrong, wrong.

JOHN FARNHAM: He is my friend and I, I can, I can go on with that friendship knowing that he's,
he's uh, contrite and he's paid his dues and uh, you know he's an upright man.

GLENN WHEATLEY: Now that I'm out of jail I still get feelings of apprehension. I still suffer
occasionally from anxiety. I get a bit speedy. I get a bit hyperventilating. And it comes at times
when I have to deal with crowds. I'm very conscious of the fact that I can't go anywhere without
some sort of recognition, and sometimes it's for good and sometimes it's for bad. To some people I
will always be a tax cheat. I shouldn't have to feel the guilt. I went to jail, I deserved to be
punished. I probably didn't deserve to get the extent of the punishment that I did, but that's,
that's just me. Other people will make their own minds up about that as well. Some people might
think I got off lightly. I first knew I was in trouble with the tax office on the 9th of June 2005.
I wasn't even home. I was on tour with John Farnham, in Perth and there was a raid on my home,
seven o'clock in the morning, this SWAT team of twenty-odd people turned up.

GAYNOR WHEATLEY: It was a shock. I thought, obviously there's a problem and we're involved with
something, so I rang Glenn and he caught the next flight home.

GLENN WHEATLEY: I knew it had to be about the Swiss bank account. That was the only thing it could
have been, and my heart sank. I, I knew that this was not going to be good.

PAUL GALBALLY, SOLICITOR: Glenn's name came to the attention of the authorities after investigators
had seized a laptop computer from a Swiss investment advisor and Glenn's name, together with
others, was on that computer. It was part of Operation Wickenby and it was touted as being one of
the largest tax evasion, um, investigations that the Commonwealth had embarked on. Glenn had
defrauded the tax office of approximately $318,000. When I saw him, he was obviously quite shaken;
of course it was a serious crime. Glenn's name was constantly leaked to the press and portrayed as
a major player, when one can assume he certainly wasn't.

GLENN WHEATLEY: Operation Wickenby were looking for $300 million in offshore money that they felt
was due to the tax office. My $318,000 didn't touch the sides. I was embarrassed because it was a
shock to my friends to read about it.

GLENN SHORROCK: Well, my earliest reaction was uh, what? He did what? What's happened? You know,
just that sort of reaction.

JO SHORROCK: The amount of money. I mean, you know, it wasn't millions or hundreds of millions, it
was just such a stupid thing to have done, was my first reaction. I, I was devastated really. The
Wheatleys and the Shorrocks have been involved on a professional level and on a friendship level
for many, many years.

GLENN SHORROCK: I first met Glenn in about 1965, when I moved from Adelaide to Melbourne with my
band called the Twilights. And Glenn came down with a band called the Bay City Union from Brisbane
around that same time and then quickly joined the Masters Apprentices. Glenn, he was very
personable man, you know, he was nice. I think Glenn's main claim to fame was to launch Australian
music overseas that was home grown in this country. And through the vehicle of Little River Band,
thank goodness from my point of view, so he certainly changed my life. His business plan was
intrinsic in LRB's success.

GLENN WHEATLEY: And I became their manager. And we ended up selling over 20 million albums in
America. And we toured 13 massively long tours over a ten-year period and there was one famous
statement that somebody said that it was like, "Little River Band were paving this four-lane
highway across America for other Australian acts to follow". And, to a degree that was true, I
mean, the INXSs followed, the Men At Works followed.

GLENN SHORROCK: But then later on, of course, when we parted company, he saw the comeback of John
Farnham as a rising star again, and put his money behind John. And, of course, John Farnham and
myself were groomsmen at the Wheatley's wedding.

JOHN FARNHAM: Well, Glenn and I've been friends for 40 years. We've been working together for 30 of
them. We've never had a contract. It's not something that we've ever deemed necessary. I still
don't deem it necessary. We're like brothers. We're really that close. He's my motivation. Truly.
His management is, is, is a large part of the success and we're a team. There's no, there's no
doubt about that. When Glenn and I first got together, I was fairly deep in debt and at that time I
was doing nothing. I didn't know at the time, but he'd actually mortgaged his house so that, so
that I could make Whispering Jack, the album, which turned out to, to work very, very well indeed.

GLENN WHEATLEY: Whispering Jack still holds the record as being the top-selling Australian album of
all time.

GLENN SHORROCK: You can't deny Glenn's successes. I mean, you know, John Farnham is the icon of our
industry now. But occasionally, you know, Glenn will stray off and go up a blind alley. Glenn
Wheatley and I experienced has been a loyal person by and large. Um, he means well but he sometimes
gets seduced by fame and fortune, sometimes.

GLENN WHEATLEY: I guess by the time the 80's came around, things were going absolutely through the
roof. We were living a lifestyle at that time that was, I guess, enviable to a lot of people. I was
managing John Farnham. I had number one selling groups at the time. I had a record label. I got
myself into sport management. My little company, Wheatley Organisation, ended up floating on the
Stock Exchange. We became part of the Hoyts media empire. I was very much at the beginning of the
launch of FM radio in Australia. And I had the Triple M radio network going, hubris got a little
bit in the way with me. I, I felt I was, you know, undefeatable. I just thought everything I could
do was, would work.

GAYNOR WHEATLEY: If life wasn't busy enough in the 80's, he took on a nightclub in Melbourne called
The Ivy. We borrowed a lot of money from the Pyramid Building Society to complete the Ivy, and, to
complicate matters, Glenn had given a personal guarantee for our partners um in The Ivy.

GLENN WHEATLEY: What was I thinking? I mean there was so much going on in my life, um, something
had to give.

GAYNOR WHEATLEY: Pyramid collapsed. We'd lost all our assets, which were our house and they seized
The Ivy and sold it for a song.

GLENN WHEATLEY: The liquidators moved in. That meant the house went, it meant the cars went, all
the furniture went, even the kids' toys. I felt bad about myself. It affected my relationship with
Gaynor. I, I was not the man that she married, was all I could think. And I was not the same proud
person, I was, I was beaten. I, I'd lost everything. What sort of a man is that?

GAYNOR WHEATLEY: Glenn was hurting really badly. I didn't know how to help him and as a family we
all ended up in one room at my mother's house. We bought some rubber lilos and the kids were
camping out at Nan's. We tried to make the best of it and make it fun, um, but with one bathroom
between a lot of us, it made for very interesting times.

GLENN WHEATLEY: The easy way out was to declare myself bankrupt. I chose not to. I had to keep
working. I'd had a win with John Farnham with Jesus Christ Superstar. I took a job with a sports
management company, but the money that was coming in was being dissipated to creditors, to my
trustee and I had three kids at private school, no assets and I had a huge tax bill of well over
$160,000 that I just did not have the money to pay. A lawyer that I was working with at the time
suggested a solution to my problem, and advised me that I could set up a Swiss bank account. I
thought I was paying tax in another jurisdiction at a lot lesser rate than I was paying in
Australia and to me, in my mind that sounded quasi-legal. What I didn't know at the time was that I
was not actually paying a tax at all, I was paying fees. But I knew that I was bending the law, ah,
I didn't realise I was actually breaking it. I felt uneasy at the time about doing this because it,
it didn't feel right but it was survival for me. The tax department were going to wind me up and I,
I was a desperate man. Fast forward to 2003. John Farnham was doing enormous business. Delta
Goodrem, I managed her early career and very proud about the fact that her album Innocent Eyes is
the second highest selling album in Australia behind Whispering Jack. I had set up a company called
TalentWorks, always had a passion for boxing and I became somewhat of a boxing promoter and the
opportunity came to stage and promote a World Title fight with Kostya Tszyu, hugely successful. I
was financially on my feet again. However I did get seduced once more by the promoter lawyer who
advised me in the first instance to send money offshore and was convinced to do it again. I sent an
amount of $400,000. This time the scheme was a little different and it was that we'd start this
paper trail. There was a company set up overseas that was a bogus company and they were going to
invoice me for services rendered. The services never were rendered but the money was sent, and I
knew at that particular time, now, I'd crossed the line. I still cannot for the life of me come up
with a valid reason as to why I got seduced into doing such a sham deal. I was just being smart. I
was just being confident, cocky, again living on hubris and thinking, I'm not alone here. A lot of
people do it, I mean it's something quite um, sexy about having an offshore bank account. I don't
know what it was. I mean I, I just knew I shouldn't have done it.

ROBERT RICHTER, QC BARRISTER: Glenn had a very naïve view, which a lot of people had shared about
tax evasion, which is I don't think he actually thought of it as a real serious crime. The Wickenby
investigation was focussing on him. He was a very nice scalp for them to have because they didn't
seem to be making much headway. I found him to be a decent, a fine and creative man and his basic
instinct was to say, 'Well, you know, I, I'll tell them what I've done and I'll do what I can to
make it right. We then had representations from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
saying that if he went through with his co-operation they would support a suspended sentence. And
then about a month after they'd indicated that, they said, 'We've changed our mind, we're going to
ask for a custodial sentence to be served, rather than suspended.' Uh, which came to all of us as a
great shock. I felt very bad about that outcome because I hadn't been double-crossed before, not by
the DPP and even though they changed their mind, you didn't, you were honourable. Glenn continued
to co-operate. He had the choice of saying I'll go through with it or not. In reality it was a
pretty pyrrhic sort of choice, because he'd already told them everything.

GLENN WHEATLEY: I began not being able to sleep. I was consumed at the thought now that there's a
very real possibility I'm going to go to jail. So I decided to call Peter Costello, who was the
Treasurer of Australia at the time. Peter I knew. And I said, 'Peter, what is the message here?
I've paid my tax back, I've pleaded guilty, but I'm going to go to jail? How's that going to be a
deterrent to anyone else? Why don't you use me, put the deal back on the table, don't send me to
jail and use me as some sort of moral compass here to ex, expand on the, the situation of don't get
sucked into these sorts of deals?' He told me very frankly that he personally can't get involved of
course.

ROBERT RICHTER, QC BARRISTER: I thought it was quite laughable. I think, in a very naïve sort of
way, he thought that his efforts to stop other people avoiding tax might be appreciated. What he
didn't realise was that uh, the authorities thought that putting bars between himself and the
outside world was a better way.

GLENN WHEATLEY: So, I went to court, pleaded guilty. The morning of the 19th July 2007, the day of
my sentencing, my heart was pounding. I was trembling. There is no doubt that I felt that I was the
tax office's poster boy and when the judge finally said to me, "two and a half years, with a
15-month minimum, it just took my breath away. I almost needed help the moment I walked out of that
court. And the thing that was still ringing in my ears, the last sentence from the judge was, 'Take
the prisoner away, take the prisoner away.' I was devastated. I just, I cried. I just broke down.
Couldn't believe what had just happened to my life. Glenn Wheatley was going to jail.

GAYNOR WHEATLEY: I think I just went, it was like icy. I understand what happens when people go
into shock, you sort of function but there was absolutely nothing registering.

JO SHORROCK: I was with Gaynor and the children at home. She didn't go to court because she didn't
want to feed the pretty big media frenzy surrounding the sentencing. We were just absolutely and
utterly devastated. We, in our wildest dreams we didn't expect it to be that long and we had to
tell the children. They were completely sobbing and, it was just an awful, it was an awful time. We
had, we just didn't see that sentence coming.

JOHN FARNHAM: I think his celebrity status, if you will, had a fair bit to do with it. Um, I am
sure that it has deterred a lot of other people, both celebrated and not celebrated from doing the
same thing. And I think that that was possibly the reason, um, it was so harsh.

GLENN WHEATLEY: All I could think about was Gaynor and my family. I was a mess. I was an emotional
mess. I was crying, because I am in a state of shock. And, in front of three officers you've got to
strip yourself naked and you've got to open your mouth, you've got to put your fingers through your
hair, you've got to hold everything up, you've got to bend over. You just, I just wanted to die.
It's the most humiliating experience that you can go through. The thought of being locked in a
cell. My heart is pounding because I'm so claustrophobic and I'm trembling, I'm shaking, I'm
absolutely shaking. It's the most horrific experience, the first day in jail that anyone can go
through and it's still hard to get through moments like that.

GAYNOR WHEATLEY: We first got to see Glenn about a day and a half after his sentence. We were all
visibly shaken to the core, um, he had ah. To see your husband in a jumpsuit, um, zipped up at the
back, it was just so, it was demoralising, degrading, all the things that obviously, um, they're
trying to do, dehumanising. Look, you know, tick every box, that's that's how he was.

GLENN WHEATLEY: I was sent to Beechworth Correctional Centre, which is a three and a half hour
drive out of Melbourne. It's a big call for the family and they did it every weekend. The guilt,
the pain that you go through, knowing what your family's having to do, is, is the worst part about
it. Beechworth is a working prison. I started out in the factory. It was laborious, it was hard, it
was monotonous. Gaynor, God bless her, stood up to the plate big time, she took over my business.

GAYNOR WHEATLEY: Well, my life changed because I basically moved out of the kitchen and into the
office, and I feel like I'm here to be with him, through whatever travails he puts me through,
it's, that's where I want to be.

GLENN WHEATLEY: At 59, I was one of the oldest prisoners inside Beechworth. For a period of time in
jail, my self esteem was non-existent. I'd hit rock bottom. I had no respect for myself. I got
depressed. I felt a failure and I've always, my life, I've always had a fear of failure and this is
the ultimate failure. I did need some help. There was a psychiatrist that came in once a month and
he gave me some very, very good advice to help me through. I knew that if I was going to survive, I
had to keep mentally and physically fit and I put myself into a daily regime of working out. And I
did a lot of walking. I read a lot. I practised yoga. I tried to meditate. And what helped me was
hearing sometimes on the radio, songs that I'd had some things to do with. Particularly if I heard
the Masters Apprentices. I mean, it built my self esteem up, that was me, that was, you know, the
glory days, that was the good old days, as I'm sweeping the, the factory floor with people that,
you know, I don't want to really be with. Two people that came to see me often were John Farnham
and Glenn Shorrock and, of course, Jo Shorrock.

GLENN SHORROCK: It was uh, difficult obviously but he seemed to be putting on a brave face all the
time.

JOHN FARNHAM: I love the man, he's my friend. You know, he's part of my family. Of course I felt
for him. It was hard and I wasn't going to desert him under those circumstances and he wouldn't
have deserted me under the same circumstances.

GLENN WHEATLEY: I was eligible after 10 months, after two thirds of your sentence, for home
detention. The news got it everywhere. It was, you know, Wheatley's doing, going home, as the
Herald Sun would say, to his 'prison palace'. That was ripped out of the paper on my final night
and wrapped up inside it was human faeces and it was put under my pillow as a farewell gift from
somebody within the jail who obviously was not happy that I was going home. The media chase of my
exit from the jail and the trip home was just ludicrous.

GAYNOR WHEATLEY: Normally I love the media, we need the media. To be on the other side, to be the
quarry of the media is so completely different. The coverage was, it just didn't stop.

JOHN FARNHAM: Every time there's something written about that Wickenby thing, uh, his name comes
up. You know, for the rest of his life he's 'tax cheat Glenn Wheatley'. It comes up every time.
Every time he reads that it must be like a dagger.

GLENN WHEATLEY: It hurts. They can audit me every year of my life from now on in and I beg them to
audit me because I am going to be so squeaky clean. But the media are all over me. And, as an
example, I'm disgusted with myself that I blemished my perfect driving record recently, it's never
happened before. I am so angry with myself, I can't even talk about it. I'm now 62. I have modest
assets. I'm living in a rented apartment that belongs to a friend, but I've got a family. Tim,
Samantha and Kara and Gaynor, they're my partners in life, and I know they love me and I know it's
unconditional and I just thank them every day for their support and for their love. Professionally,
I've gone back to doing what I do best. I'm still managing John Farnham. I've got some new acts
coming through. I'm setting up a new record label. And one of the important things I'm working on
at the moment is bringing music to mobile phones. It's tough getting back to the dizzy heights that
I had at one stage, but I know I can do it and I know I will do it again. I mean it's just, I, I,
as long as I've got my health and I've got the support of my family, I'm, I'm unbeatable again.